More than 200,000 UI claims filed last week in Washington; 1 million now receiving benefits since pandemic began.

The Employment Security Department has released another grim claims report.

During the week of May 3-9, there were 109,425 initial regular unemployment claims (an increase of 8,663 from the previous week) and 1,301,564 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (an increase of 215,533 from the previous week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

ESD paid out over $767 million (an increase of almost $130 million from the previous week) for 538,635 individual claims (an increase of 34,496 from the previous week).

Washington Research Council economist Kriss Sjoblom breaks it down,

ESD reported a total of 212,962 initial claims for unemployment insurance during the May 3–May 9 week. Of this total, 109,425 initial claims were under the regular unemployment insurance program; 55,911 claims were under the federal pandemic unemployment assistance program, which covers self-employed persons, independent contractors and part-time workers; and 47,626 claims were under the federal pandemic unemployment compensation program, which extends the maximum term of benefits from 26 weeks to 39 weeks.

Sjoblom’s graph shows how different this recession is from others in the spike of UI claims.

In The Seattle Times, Paul Roberts notes the “grim milestone” of passing the 1 million mark and writes,

More than a million workers in Washington have now filed for unemployment benefits or other related assistance since early March, a grim milestone as the state continues to grapple with the unprecedented economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

State officials expect claims for jobless benefits will decline over coming months as Washington continues to reopen its shuttered economy. But “for now, these [jobless numbers] represent our new normal,” Suzi LeVine, Employment Security Department commissioner, said at a press conference Thursday after the state released the latest claims data.

Oddly, Washington is an outlier.

Washington was among the few states reporting an increase in jobless claims. The nation as a whole saw 2.98 million initial unemployment claims last week, down 6.1% from the prior week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

With the state slowly reopening for some businesses, we’ll see how quickly people are able to return to work.